Original paper

A probable case of congenital syphilis from pre-Columbian Austria

Gaul, Johanna Sophia; Grossschmidt, Karl; Gusenbauer, Christian; Kanz, Fabian

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 72 No. 4 (2015), p. 451 - 472

published: Nov 1, 2015
published online: Nov 18, 2015

DOI: 10.1127/anthranz/2015/0504

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This study examines the skeletal remains of a subadult from an archeological site in Austria. Radiocarbon dating and archeological attribution indicate that this individual is of pre-Columbian origin. Most of the skeleton was recovered, and only the teeth and the orbital roofs show changes. Dental defects such as the mulberry molar and a tapered, fang-like canine suggest a diagnosis of congenital syphilis. This is the first probable case of congenital syphilis from pre-Columbian Central Europe. Our findings contribute to the pre-Columbian theory, offering counterevidence to the assumption that syphilis was carried from Columbus' crew from the New to the Old World.


treponematosispre-columbianenamel hypoplasiamulberry molarcongenital syphilishutchinson's incisor